University State of Paraiba – UEPB – Brazil
The coronavirus pandemic in Brazil has exposed and aggravated problems generated by great social and economic inequalities. Based on my personal experience as a professor and a mother I would like to address two of them. The first concerns to the right to education. I work on a public university in the northeast of Brazil. There, a decision of the dean, as a consequence of an orientation of the ministry of education, allowed professors to continue classes using online platforms. This decision has exposed the fragilities of the human right to education of the most socially vulnerable students, who lack the proper resources – adequate equipment and internet access – to follow the classes online. Many of my pupils live in rural areas with no internet signal and has only a cell phone but no computer. Although the dean stablished that the online classes are only possible if all the students enrolled in the class agree to it, which is very much aligned to a neoliberal logic, it is not that easy for a pupil to say “no” when the teacher wants to keep going. Furthermore, there is still the pressure from other students with better conditions that blame them to be a burden to others. A second problem I would like to raise concerns to gender issues and the difficulties faced by many mothers. In a very sexist society as it is the case in Brazil, small children and the house are mostly a women’s job. Now, that all the kids are home fulltime, we mothers, face the exhausting challenge of working remotely, taking care of the children and homeschooling, since many primary schools also resorted to online platforms. In poor families, the situation of women is even worse, since many mothers lost their incomes and have all the children at home fulltime to take care of.